LeRoy High School: No Photo!

Over the weekend, the LeRoy story about high school kids suddenly developing unexplained Tourettes-like symptons took a strange turn. Some of the families have retained the services of Erin Brockovich, who consults with personal injury / environmental tort law firm Weitz & Luxenburg, among others. (You may know Weitz & Luxenburg as being the firm for which Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver works).  

The Brockovich team was on hand over the weekend to take soil and water samples from the general area around the high school, and brought the media along to watch & inquire. The school district, however, appears to be overreacting to this, playing hardball with respect to the small town media circus this is becoming. Howard Owens from the Batavian comments

[Brockovich investigator Bob] Bowcock was told by [LeRoy Central School District rep Bill] Albert that he could walk the grounds, just like any other citizen in Le Roy, but could not take soil samples, and the media would not be allowed on the grounds. Albert said that while members of the media were citizens, they could not go on the property while acting in capacity as media, even though numerous Supreme Court cases have not drawn a distinction between a “person” and a “corporate entity” (most recently Citizens United) for the purpose of First Amendment rights.

School property is public property and public access cannot be denied so long as it does not disrupt the educational purpose of the campus.

The media was on site during non-school hours and there was no evidence of educational activity. To label the media presence as “criminal activity” is beyond ludicrous.

Ludicrous indeed.  But not because of the distinction between a “person” and any other legal entity, but because if a person has the right to traverse the property, a person with a camera has the right to photograph them, and a person with a microphone has a right to question them. The school district’s reaction to all of this is likely guided by overprotective counsel, but is fast becoming comical. The environment at the school could quite possibly hold the key to this outbreak of an unknown malady, and the school should be welcoming additional investigators and scrutiny – not lobbing Soviet-era threats as if this is some military secret. 

The LeRoy High School isn’t Area 51, and the families of kids who go there have a right to be 100% sure they’re not learning trigonometry and science on top of an environmental catastrophe.